Messenger service companies say they did not employ plaintiff; that he was an independent contractor. $53K. San Francisco Superior Court.

Summary

Multiple violations of wage and hour laws alleged by messenger, but defendants say he was an independent contractor.

The Case

  • Case Name: Express Messenger Systems dba OnTrac; Subcontracting Concepts LLC v. Juan Jose Reyes
  • Court and Case Number: San Francisco Superior Court/ CGC-18-564308
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, August 23, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, February 14, 2018
  • Type of Action: Employment
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Newton J. Lam
  • Plaintiffs:
    Juan Jose Reyes
  • Defendants:
    Express Messenger Systems dba OnTrac
    Subcontracting Concepts LLC
  • Type of Result: Bench Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $53,896.97
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    The court found that defendants/appellants Express Messenger Systems, Inc. dba OnTrac and Subcontracting Concepts LLC were joint employers and that defendants/appellants employed plaintiff/respondent Juan Jose Reyes.

    Plaintiff/respondent was an employee and not an independent contractor of defendants/appellants. Plaintiff/respondent was an employee of defendants/appellants for both wage order and non-wage order claims.

    Plaintiff/respondent Juan Jose Reyes was awarded judgment against Appellants Express Messenger Systems, Inc. dba OnTrac and Subcontracting Concepts LLC. in the amount of $53,896.97, plus attorneys’ fees of $266,970 pursuant to Cal. Lab. Code §§ 98.2(c), 226(e)(1), 1194, 2802(c), plus court costs of $11,045.60 pursuant to Cal. Code Civ. Proc. §§ 1032 and 1033.5.

  • Economic Damages:

    Unpaid non-productive wages based on the minimum wage: $11,454.76

    Unpaid piece rate wages for unpaid overtime wages: $13,351.02

    Rest period premiums based on the minimum wage: $5,606.39

    Meal period premiums based on the minimum wage: $5,573.86

    For unreimbursed business expenses: $1,342.43

    For unlawful deductions from wages: $425.66

    For failure to provide accurate/complete wage statements: $4,000

    For failure to provide requested records: $750

    Interest for unpaid wages, rest period premiums, meal period premiums, and business expenses: $11,392.85 

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 11 days.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff/respondent was awarded attorneys’ fees of $266,970 pursuant to Cal. Lab. Code §§ 98.2(c), 226(e)(1), 1194, 2802(c). The parties stipulated to court costs of $11,045.60 pursuant to Cal. Code Civ. Proc. §§ 1032 and 1033.5.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Breall & Breall, LLP by Joseph M. Breall and Christina Q. Nguyen, Sann Francisco.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Littler Mendelson, P.C. by Damon M. Ott, San Francisco.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff/respondent sought to recover from defendants/appellants Express Messenger Systems, Inc. dba OnTrac and Subcontracting Concepts LLC (1) unpaid regular, overtime, and double time wages; (2) unpaid meal period premiums, Section 11 of IWC Order 9-2001; (3) unpaid rest period premiums, Section 12 of IWC Order 9-2001; (4) unlawful deductions from wages, Cal. Lab. Code § 221; (5) liquidated damages, Cal. Lab. Code § 1194.2; (6) unreimbursed business expenses, Cal. Lab. Code § 2802(a); (7) failure to provide accurate/complete wage statements, Cal. Lab. Code § 226(a); (8) failure to provide requested records, Cal. Lab. Code §§ 226 and 1198.5; and (9) waiting time penalties, Cal. Lab. Code § 203.

    This was a de novo court trial. Defendants/appellants Express Messenger Systems, Inc. dba OnTrac and Subcontracting Concepts LLC timely appealed the Labor Commissioner, Division of Labor Standard Enforcement’s Order, Decision or Award pursuant to California Labor Code §98.2.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff/respondent sought to recover from defendants/appellants Express Messenger Systems, Inc. dba OnTrac and Subcontracting Concepts LLC (1) unpaid regular, overtime, and double time wages; (2) unpaid meal period premiums, Section 11 of IWC Order 9-2001; (3) unpaid rest period premiums, Section 12 of IWC Order 9-2001; (4) unlawful deductions from wages, Cal. Lab. Code § 221; (5) liquidated damages, Cal. Lab. Code § 1194.2; (6) unreimbursed business expenses, Cal. Lab. Code § 2802(a); (7) failure to provide accurate/complete wage statements, Cal. Lab. Code § 226(a); (8) failure to provide requested records, Cal. Lab. Code §§ 226 and 1198.5; and (9) waiting time penalties, Cal. Lab. Code § 203.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants/appellants argued that they did not employ plaintiff/respondent, and that Jesus Fernando Gonzalez dba Fernando Gonzalez Enterprises employed plaintiff/respondent. Defendants/appellants further argued that plaintiff/respondent was an independent contractor.

Additional Notes

Plaintiff/respondent was awarded attorneys’ fees of $266,970.00 pursuant to Cal. Lab. Code §§ 98.2(c), 226(e)(1), 1194, 2802(c). The parties stipulated to court costs of $11,045.60 pursuant to Cal. Code Civ. Proc. §§ 1032 and 1033.5. Defendants contested both the amount of time and plaintiff/respondent’s counsel’s hourly rate of $750.00 an hour. The court found that the time was both reasonable and that the rate was reasonable for plaintiff/respondent’s experience.

The Court refused to grant a multiplier requested by plaintiff/respondent’s counsel. This trial was one of the first trial court cases after the California Supreme Court decision, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 903.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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